Japan & Me

Nic Klar

Occupation: Teacher, careers & universities counsellor, sometimes writer
Age: 50+

Tell us about a place you like in Japan.
My wife is from Myoko Kogen on the Nagano/Niigata border, so we spent a lot of time there before finally moving in full-time from August. It's a really beautiful part of the country. My favourite city in Japan is Kanazawa - the gardens there are particularly picturesque. We also really love Kyushu, and we've travelled there quite a lot over the last few years.

What did you do when you lived in Japan
I went to Japan as an English teacher on the JET Programme. I was based in Omi, in Niigata Prefecture (which has now been swallowed up by neighbouring Itoigawa City). I woke up every morning to a view of the Japan Sea out the front and the Japan Alps out the back.

What interests you about Japan
I really couldn't nail it down to a specific interest. I guess I love travelling, and Japan offers so many wonderful opportunities for that - going skiing and visiting 'onsen' (hot springs), as well as getting out into nature or visiting places of cultural and historical significance. I guess I'm also a bit of a train geek, and I love catching trains along the small rural lines.

How is life in Japan different to life in Adelaide
It's very different, but of course that varies depending on where one might live in Japan. Rural life is very quiet in Japan (as it is in Australia). Japanese cities offer a lot more opportunities to sample local food and go to cultural events. I guess Adelaide's multiculturalism is one major difference.

How does Japan influence your life at present
Having a Japanese wife and multilingual children, the influence is ever pervasive. I also love Japanese movies. Just the other day I finally found and watched the movie version of my favourite Japanese book - '69', by Ryu Murakami.

Tell us something memorable about your time in Japan.
My daughter was born in Japan while I was in Adelaide. Unfortunately she came just a bit early for me to be at the birth, so I jumped on the next plane out. When I got to Japan, I had to catch three trains with only minutes between each (while carrying about 40kg of luggage!). To make one train, I came screaming down the stairs yelling, "Chotto matte!" ("Wait! Wait!") as I heard the whistle. A taxi finally got me to the hospital just before midnight, about 36 hours after the birth.

Nic has written a book about his experiences in rural Japan. The Kindle edition of 'My Mother is a Tractor' is available on Amazon, or at Nic's website - http://klarbooks.com/mmiat/
Nic also manages an online guide for foreign tourists and skiers, entitled 'Explore the Heart of Japan'. http://myoko-nagano.com

Edited: November 2013